Airport neighbors to voice concerns on drilling [Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (PA)]
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (PA), 2014-02-20
Bob Sterner will be among Findlay residents expected to pack a meeting on Thursday to ask township supervisors to force Consol Energy Inc. to locate at least one proposed drilling site at Pittsburgh International Airport farther from homes.
"Even before the Greene County explosion, there were issues and concerns I had. There's a lot of unknown long-term effects with this type of drilling," said Sterner, 52, of the Imperial Pointe section of Findlay.
Consol is seeking permits from the township as part of its plan to put six natural gas drilling pads on airport land. Five sites are in Findlay. A sixth straddles Moon and Findlay.
Allegheny County officials hope to raise about $500 million through an agreement with Consol, which would use the pads to drill 47 wells on airport property.
County Council in February agreed to lease more than 9,000 acres surrounding the airport, earmarking the money to reduce gate fees to attract flights, make airport improvements and finance land development.
Imperial Pointe residents want pad No. 2 at least a half-mile from their neighborhood. State Department of Environmental Protection spokesman John Poister said the law requires a 500-foot setback between drilling sites and homes.
Findlay residents said documents show the site is 1,180 feet from Imperial Pointe. A half-mile setback would be 2,640 feet.
Findlay supervisors have to determine whether the proposal meets the township ordinance, which largely reflects state law but takes into account the protection of the "health, safety and welfare" of residents.
Sterner contends the clause gives township officials the power to force Consol to move back the well pad.
Meetings between residents and Consol did not prompt the company to change its plans.
Board of Supervisors Chairman Thomas Gallant said everyone in attendance will be permitted to speak and expects the meeting to be tense because of a Chevron gas well explosion in Greene County last week. He said supervisors will evaluate information and testimony before making a decision, though they could vote Thursday.
"This is an opportunity for Findlay Township residents to address the controversial process of natural gas fracking at Pittsburgh International," Gallant said.
Consol spokeswoman Kate O'Donovan said company officials will attend.
"We have made tremendous progress in addressing various issues with all stakeholders throughout this process, including Findlay Township," O'Donovan said. "This open dialogue has driven innovation and positive improvements as part of our planning, and we are excited to move forward this year in delivering on this important project for the region."
At a minimum, residents want increased air monitoring around their neighborhood. The Allegheny County Health Department agreed to that last month.
Bobby Kerlik is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412- 320-7886 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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